Are You Mentally and Emotionally Ready to Retire?

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Wealth Management

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By:  Paul Horn, CFP®, CPWA®, Senior Financial Planner

Most people look forward to the day that they can have independence and no longer have to work 9 – 5. In my experience, while everyone wants to retire, most are truly not ready to retire. I am not referring to having the financial ability to retire but most are not emotionally ready for retirement. Retiring before you are emotionally ready often leads to feelings of sadness and not feeling fulfilled. As a result, many people will return to work since they were not ready. This is especially true with individuals that retire early.

With any major transition in life, it takes time to prepare emotionally and become comfortable with the new reality. Major changes are difficult and below are some things to consider helping gauge how emotionally prepared you are for retirement.

Why do you want to retire?

Retirement is more than just watching tv or sitting in a rocking chair waiting for the Grim Reaper to arrive. Retirement is about pursuing passions and finally having the time to do the things that you want to do. For many retirees is about traveling, time with friends and family, or other passions like golf or charitable work. If you want to retire because of a bad job situation or are feeling burned out, then you may not be ready to retire. Remember that retirement does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. Many people will move to part-time work or a less stressful job to help ease them into retirement.

Visualize your retirement.

This is similar to the first question but an important step. What do you see yourself doing in retirement?  Take some time to daydream about the things you want to do in retirement. Allow your mind to wander and no idea is too crazy. This is a time to experiment and really let down your guard. I had a couple that retired and never owned an animal. They decided they wanted a dog and chose the breed. One thing led to another, and their retirement became traveling the country doing dog shows and becoming well-respected breeders. For another client, this was simply being able to go out to breakfast with her husband or friends daily and having time to be more involved in her church. Whatever retirement looks like for you should energize you and get you excited.

Write it down

Studies have shown that you are far more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. Take the time to write down the timeline and steps you want to take to retire. If you want to travel, then begin to plan out your first trip and develop an itinerary. By writing it down you can come back and look at this if you feel overwhelmed or unsure about retirement.

Be patient and have realistic expectations

Retirement is a major life event and for most is a difficult transition. Your habits will need to change to adjust to retirement and for most people, this transition is slow and takes about six to twelve months. The important thing during this time is to be patient with yourself and allow yourself some time to find fulfillment and meaning. Begin with small tweaks and experiment with different habits to find what brings you the most satisfaction. During this transition make sure to communicate challenges or difficulties with a friend or family member. Just communicating your emotions can help you feel better about the transition.

Give your retirement a dry run

As clients get closer to retirement, I strongly encourage them to begin some of the things that they are planning for in retirement. If you plan on travel, take some time off before you retire and take some smaller trips to make sure you are happy with the lifestyle and decision you are making. If you are considering a major purchase like a boat or RV, then rent one on the weekends and make sure you enjoy it before making the purchase. Starting some of these habits before retirement will make the transition easier and allows you to experiment without repercussions. If you are concerned about retiring, then take the process slowly by working part-time or in a less stressful job and make the transition to retirement when you are good and ready.

Being mentally and emotionally prepared for retirement is one of the biggest topics that people forget to discuss before retirement. If you do not know where to start or would like to talk with us, you can reach us at

Disclosure: BFSG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to BFSG’s website or blog or incorporated herein and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy (including those undertaken or recommended by Company), will be profitable or equal any historical performance level(s). Please see important disclosure information here.

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